Originally Published: June 21, 2017 6:03 a.m.
DENVER — Nolan Arenado came through with another big swing for the Colorado Rockies.
Arenado hit a two-run triple off Zack Greinke in the eighth inning, and the streaking Rockies rallied past the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 on Tuesday night in the opening game of their NL West showdown.
Carlos Gonzalez homered and saved a run with a diving catch to help Colorado win its sixth straight. The NL West leaders extended their advantage to two games over third-place Arizona, which had won seven in a row. Second-place Los Angeles remained a half-game back of the Rockies after routing the New York Mets.
“I wish the Dodgers and Diamondbacks weren’t playing that good. I wish we were leading the division by more games,” Arenado said. “But these are the cards we’re played. We’ve got to enjoy it and compete.”
Arenado has risen to the challenge. He completed the cycle Sunday with a game-ending, three-run homer against San Francisco, and this time his triple off the scoreboard in right field turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 advantage.
For the second straight game, the Coors Field crowd was chanting “MVP! MVP!” Gonzalez said the same thing to Arenado during a pitching change in the eighth.
“I told him, ‘That’s an MVP thing. You’re carrying the team. You’re hitting clutch hits,’” Gonzalez said. “From my view, it’s just incredible.”
David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt homered for the Diamondbacks.
“Tough loss,” Peralta said. “It happens. It’s part of the game. We just have to be ready for tomorrow. We still have two games and can still win this series.”
Arizona and Colorado, perhaps baseball’s two biggest surprises this season, both entered on a roll. The Diamondbacks are a major league-best 23-9 since May 15, while the Rockies’ 23-11 mark since then ranks third.
Those two teams, along with the Dodgers, have the top three records in the National League.
The series opener Tuesday was the biggest game between the clubs since the 2007 NL Championship Series that Colorado won in a sweep. The Diamondbacks took a 3-2 lead on the solo homers by Peralta and Goldschmidt, but the Rockies rallied in the eighth against Arizona’s ace.
Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu singled off Greinke (8-4) with one out. Arenado followed with his second triple in as many games off the scoreboard in right.
“Our third baseman is doing Kobe Bryant things,” Gonzalez said. “He’s just on a different level. It’s fun to watch. He’s carrying this team on his shoulders.”
Arenado laughed at the comparison to the Los Angeles Lakers great.
“I’m not at that level yet,” he said. “That’s (our) favorite basketball player, so we always say we have to have a Kobe mentality. That’s pretty cool and nice of him to say, but hopefully I’ll get on that guy’s level one day.”
Adam Ottavino (1-1) got the win despite allowing Goldschmidt’s 17th homer. Greg Holland pitched the ninth for his 25th save in 26 chances.
The Rockies took a 2-0 lead with a run in the second on a throwing error and a home run by Gonzalez in the fourth. It was his fifth career homer off Greinke.
Diamondbacks: OF A.J. Pollock (groin strain) experienced quad tightness during a game for Triple-A Reno on Monday. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Pollock would take it easy and will be evaluated after going through “normal pregame activity” on Thursday.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson (left knee inflammation) could be activated from the 10-day disabled list after a successful rehab start Sunday. Anderson, who last pitched for the Rockies on May 30, went five innings and allowed one run for Triple-A Albuquerque. ... RHP Jon Gray (stress fracture, left foot) will probably need at least one more rehab start. Gray went 4 1/3 innings for Albuquerque on Monday.
Diamondbacks: RHP Taijuan Walker (5-3, 3.32 ERA) is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last two starts. He lost his only start against the Rockies this season.
Rockies: RHP Jeff Hoffman (4-0, 2.25 ERA) will make his second career start against the Diamondbacks. He allowed four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings at Arizona on Sept. 14, 2016.